Ten years after his last big screen outing SpongeBob returns in a predictably and delightfully silly new adventure Sponge Out of Water.
Featuring Antonio Banderas having a whole ton of fun as Burger Beard a lone-wolf, salty sea dog in the hunt of a magic book. The book also serves as the text from which he recites the story of SpongeBob Square Pants fry cook at the Krusty Krab fast food restaurant, at war with Plankton who wants the secret formula for the Krab’s Krabbie Paties the most popular item on the menu.
After the recipe mysteriously disappears the town is thrown into a Mad Max-eqsue hellhole – “Welcome to the apocalypse. I hope you like leather”. SpongeBob along with his crew of friends Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy and arch nemesis Plankton venture forth to track down the missing formula.
Trailers for the film have made much of the fact that our heroes sally forth into the real world, being rendered as glorious CG superheroes (the result of writing in the magic book that seems to control the very film itself) and kicking much ass against Burger Beard. This portion of the film only account for the final twenty minutes or so. For the most part we see the action in good old fashioned Squarepants 2D, mixed in with live action sequences of Antonio Banderas continuing to have the fun reading the book out to a group of seagulls – re-cast for British audiences with the likes of Alan Carr.
Fans of the show will be happy to learn that Sponge Out of Water is just as anarchic, non-sensical and troublingly chucklesome as ever. The plot rambles along at a slightly ramshackle pace. Some sequences seem to rocket along whilst others seem to slow the pace down. The first time we meet our hero in the film we’re instantly thrust into a battle sequence that would rival the attack on Autobot City in Transformers the Movie, things then seem to go round in circles for a bit as SpongeBob goes from hero to villain back to hero before becoming an actual superhero in the climax.
It was slightly telling that in the screening that I saw the film that most of the laughter seemed to be coming from the older audience members. Filled with devilish, sometimes saucy one-liners the script seems to be written with an eye of the sarcastic rather than out and out slapstick for the kids. This works as a plus for the film. There’s certainly enough going on visually to keeps younger ones enthralled whilst still featuring enough laughs for everyone. Antonio Banderas knows the tone of the film and gives what could be his most over-the-top performance of his career. He is having a ball though, as we all may be, it’s a silly, silly role for a silly, silly film.
Just be mindful that before you get to the real-world action that features so heavily in the trailer you will have to sit through an hour of standard 2D animation. Go in with that knowledge and you’ll be richly rewarded by a family comedy that will genuinely appeal to all family members (although if someone in your family is lacking a sense of humour you’re screwed). Perfectly timed for the Easter holidays you will may be thanking the Squarepanted Gods for being something funny out.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is out in cinemas March 27th.